East SJ Residents Urged to Pack Bags Following New Evac Orders

8pm: Crossing the line.

Cal Fire issued an evacuation warning Sunday night in parts of Santa Clara County for the CZU Lightning Complex fire. A warning was issued due to an increased threat of fire from lightning storms making their way to the Bay Area.

As of 7pm, the CZU Lightning Complex Fire had burned 74,000 acres and was only 8 percent contained. One person died and 131 homes have been destroyed.

5:30pm: Ready or not.

Fire Safety Update

LIVE NOW: I'm joined by Fire Chief Sapien and EOC Director Lee Wilcox for the latest fire updates. - Get prepared for rapidly changing conditions (readyforwildfire.org)- Stay informed (map: bit.ly/SCU_FireEvacMap)- Sign up for alerts here: bit.ly/AlertSCC_Signup.For more community updates and COVID support visit siliconvalleystrong.org

Posted by Sam Liccardo on Sunday, August 23, 2020

San Jose officials urged residents on the eastern edge of the city—particularly in the Alum Rock, Berryessa and Evergreen neighborhoods, as well as areas to the south of Evergreen—to “have your bags packed and ready to go.”

The warning comes as firefighters brace for an unpredictable night of dry winds and lightning strikes, the same weather that started the blazes that have since spread across hundreds of thousands of acres in Northern California.

“Given the wind conditions, and whether or not we see any new fires from lightning strikes, the notice can be quite short,” SJFD Chief Robert Sapien said. “We will be using multiple means if necessary to notify, whether that’s through digital devices or manual knocking on doors or audible devices as well.”

The fire chief, Mayor Sam Liccardo and Chief of Staff Lee Wilcox announced as much in a live update on the South Bay blazes two hours after CalFire issued new evacuation orders for some of Morgan Hill and parts of unincorporated Santa Clara County.

Sapien urged residents told to leave their homes to heed the order immediately.

“The reality is that we have a really hard time as firefighters keeping our attention on the firefight when we also have to be wary of residents that are in those areas, who may become trapped and may need our assistance,” he said. “Not only is it dangerous for the residents, but firefighters will put themselves in harm’s way to protect other lives.”

There may be some hope on the horizon for San Jose, however.

When the storms arrive, likely between 11pm and 6am, the National Weather Service predicts that they may veer to the west, Wilcox said.

“That is better news for the fires east of our Valley, but worse for the fires west of our Valley,” he said, referencing the CZU Complex in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties.

San Jose is tracking the evacuation orders and the locations of its resource centers on its website as more people head into the city to avoid the blaze. South Bay evacuees looking for more information can call 408.808.7778.

4:30pm: And then there were seven.

The SCU Complex today grew from five counties to seven, according to Jeff Ike, an incident commander for the Cal Fire team assigned to the group of blazes advancing south through Santa Clara Valley.

“The magnitude of what we’re dealing with right now is extremely complex,” he told reporters during a presser at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

With a fire of this magnitude, resources stretched to the breaking point and more lightning and wind gusts still in the forecast, Ike said, there’s still a long fight ahead.

Like other fires raging through more than a million acres up and down the state, he said the SCU Complex is fast and unpredictable, and that he can’t stress enough the need for people to “heed the warning” when they’re told to flee.

4pm: News you can use. 

Watch the latest update on the SCU Complex in the livestream below.

3pm: Time to go.

Cal Fire expanded evacuation orders at 3pm today for southern portions of Santa Clara County around Morgan Hill impacted by the SCU Complex of lightning fires.

Click here for the SCU Complex landing page and here for a map of where those mandatory orders and advisory warnings are currently in effect.

A press conference with the latest updates on the 340,000-acre cluster of blazes east of Santa Clara Valley is scheduled for 4pm. It will be livestreamed here on Twitter.

With more people ordered to flee, Santa Clara County has opened a third evacuation resource center at the Quinlan Community Center, 10185 N. Stelling Road in Cupertino.

The first evacuation hub opened several days ago at the Milpitas Library. A second sprang into action a day later at Ann Sobrato High in Morgan Hill.

Evacuation resource centers are staffed by the county and the American Red Cross. The facilities are not equipped as shelters but can help evacuees find temporary places to stay.

However, parking will be available for evacuees with RVs, tents and sleeping bags.

Everyone under an evacuation mandate is urged to act quickly and leave ahead of fast-moving, unpredictable wildfires—especially with another lightning storm is on the way.

South Bay evacuees looking for more information can call 408.808.7778. General fire updates are available online at http://bit.ly/LightningComplex-SCC.

An update on the CZU Complex—70,000 acres of fire burning westward from Santa Cruz to the Peninsula—is scheduled for 6pm and will be broadcast online here.

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